Determining "read" time for text boxes

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!

My first post of 2014 regards the time allowed for the user to read text. I have been experimenting with fly-in, fade-in text where there may be varying amounts of text in a paragraph. Is there a "rule of thumb" to estimate the amount of time the user should have to read a body of text, before bringing in some more?

The attached PP-2007 slide illustrates what I'm talking about. I want the user to have a reasonable amount of time to read what is on the screen, before throwing more text at them, without having them drumming their fingers on the desk, waiting for the "rest of the story."

Any thoughts on this????

12 Replies
Jerson  Campos

Hey Skip.

Happy New Year,

I'm actually a slow reader myself. My wife can read a page in about 1/2 the time.  Here is an interesting link I found that tests your reading speed and comprehension.

http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/technology-research-centers/ereaders/speed-reader/iframe.html

I would agree with Bruce, If you feel like you are an average reader, take that time and 30% more time.   It might help to add some "stops" after a few paragraphs where the user can click next to move on to more text.

Nancy Woinoski

I agree with Phil, this type of thing works ok when you are synching keywords or images with audio because the audio sets the pace but it is much less successful when trying to time text builds on their own. I've never been satisfied with the timing when I've tried to animate text builds on their own. I don't really do this anymore.

I think it is better to give the learner control of the pace. 

Bruce Graham

Nancy Woinoski said:

I agree with Phil, this type of thing works ok when you are synching keywords or images with audio because the audio sets the pace but it is much less successful when trying to time text builds on their own. I've never been satisfied with the timing when I've tried to animate text builds on their own. I don't really do this anymore.

I think it is better to give the learner control of the pace. 


Agreed, however as I never produce courses without audio I have no experience of this.

Jeff Salus

When I was studying broadcasting, I was told the rule of thumb for lower-thirds is to read the text aloud three times. I've since applied something similar to my online content. I found three times to be a bit long for anything beyond a few words, but reading text aloud twice generally gives me a good initial time estimate. I tend to tweak it, depending on the actual text, the likelihood of distracting factors (that might delay reading), and my audience. Another technique I've found helpful is to read the text aloud just once, and then add ~20-50% to the time.

David Price

We come across this problem all the time on my team.  90-95% of our target audience does not have English as their first language so timings become even more important and even more tricky to get right.

As we deliver across multiple countries we have users at different levels of English competency, for example our users in the Philippines and South Africa can probably read and understand English faster than the majority of our users in India (or at least that is what experience tells us).  So do we slow it down for our slower readers and annoy the faster reads with making them wait or just accept we can't please everyone and find a reasonable medium.

I tend to add around 30-50% of my reading speed to timings, and I'm quite a slow reader at times, however I tend to now put continue buttons in.  Yes it is increasing the amount of clicks users need to do but it allows them to read at their own pace.  But again this approach is not ideal and I know some people on my team are against adding these extra clicks in.

Margaret Morse

I have been having trouble judging reading time, too. This may be a somewhat clunky suggestion, but the training I've been working on has a "How to" module to begin. On the most recent project, I was using zoom areas on slides to allow people to look at the top and bottom of printed pages, and I instructed them to drag the progress bar forward and backward for a close-up view. Since then, I've changed to including the pages in a scrolling text block the size of the screen and also as a download, but the old version showed people how to manipulate the slide timing to have more or less time as they needed. I think I'll emphasize this more in the "How to" in future.

OWEN HOLT

I've found that the duration of an audio file created using text to speech is a fairly good indication of the amount of time I would need to display any text. In addition, I've found that users appreciate having an "auto advance on/off" switch similar to an audio on/off switch. When auto advance is off, additional navigation buttons appear giving the user control over the course timing. This is, of course, accomplished through variables and button states.